What the f*** is B12?
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As vegans, we all know that we need to supplement our vegan diets with B12. I've been adding B12 to my diet ever since my sister, Rescue Ranger, harped on me about it. "Ok, ok, I'll add it!"...but why and what is it?
Why is B12 important? If you are B12 deficient things like tiredness, shaking, balance, tingling in the extremities, dementia, poor memory, blurred vision can happen....and the list goes on and on including cardiovascular problems!
(So I have MS, so for me it is the question of is it a deficiency of B12 or just the disease? I joke, but this is true. I also feel very passionately that if I wasn't vegan then I would be much worse off! I can trace a path from my diagnosis to my veganism, so I should be grateful for my MS? It's weird, but I partially am! I know weird, but I digress.) Okay, back to why we are here....
B12, what the F*** is it? Most of us know it comes from eating animals, but the process to get it is so much more complex. Even after researching it, I still don't have a true handle on it, but I'll explain the best I can.
So B12 is actually many molecules that come together and need bacteria to form in order to release as B12. B12 is then name given to these molecules after bacteria has changed them to form a new combined molecule. How it is formed in nature is the gathering of these particles in the soil or on plants. Animals then eat them and provide the bacteria that is needed in order to form the vitamin. Humans then eat these animals and gain B12 that has been released into the muscles and organs of that animal. It's a chain that needs to happen in order for our bodies to be able to process this much needed vitamin.
So how do vegans get B12 then? Well luckily we have figured a better way to get these particles to combine with that needed bacteria. We used our brains and a lab to add that bacteria to the molecules in order to present itself as B12. Brilliant and great ingenuity!
Now a meat eater's argument would be that it's not natural, and since it was good enough in the past we should get our B12 from eating animals. My argument back would be about progress, and using that knowledge to our advantage. If not we'd still all be neanderthals running around, because even cars were an ingenuitive and technological advantage. Just because we did something or were some way in the past, doesn't make it right or even belong in the future! Vegan is good karma, right? Hello, let's progress people!
Speaking of progress, there is also a current study by Kent University to produce B12 that humans can process through garden cress. Wow! that would be an awesome way to use our brains to human and animal advantage. The work is not complete yet, but it looks promising. Also garden cress just by itself is amazing; I just looked it up! It's a great source of Vitamin C (more than oranges), Vitamin A (vision), Vitamin K (cardiovascular), and it's anti-cancer! I must add this to my smoothies!
So until this B12-garden cress is in production, then I will continue to supplement my diet with B12, B complex, or foods that have been fortified with B12, like: vegan milks, nutritional yeast, breakfast cereals, smoothie powders.